Five people victims of far-right hate crimes in east Germany every day
Far-right extremists carried out 1,212 attacks last year in Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, according to data collected by victim counselling centres.
That’s an increase of about seven percent from the previous year when 1,123 incidents of violence were logged.
The figures were revealed this week by the Association of Counselling Centres for victims of right-wing, racist and antisemitic violence (VBRG).
The attacks in 2018 were aimed at a total of 1,789 people, of which more than 250 were children and young people. The VBRG said it amounts to around five people becoming victims of far-right motivated, racist and anti-Semitic terror every day.
Robert Kusche of the VBRG warned that social cohesion was “massively threatened by everyday racism” and organized neo-Nazi terror”.
Highest number of attacks in Saxony
At least 962 people were injured in these attacks and 509 of them had serious injuries. The eastern state of Saxony saw the highest number of violent crimes by right-wing extremists, with 317 attacks recorded last year, up from 229 in 2017.
The Saxon city of Chemnitz was the scene of major far-right riots in August and September last year, where there were reports of people of foreign heritage being hounded. Police also arrested protesters who were caught making the illegal Nazi salute.
Meanwhile, Dresden, Saxony’s capital, has been the home to the anti-Islam group Pegida (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) since 2015. Supporters of this group are known for holding anti-immigrant and far-right views.
Two-thirds of all the attacks recorded across eastern Germany – 793 cases – were racially motivated and were largely against refugees, people from a migrant background and people of colour, the report said.
Another large group of victims were political opponents, where 188 cases were recorded by counselling centres.
Fewer attacks on Muslims nationwide, but more injuries
Meanwhile, as The Local reported, there were fewer attacks on Muslims and mosques last year. But the number of injuries increased, indicating a decrease in prevalence but a spike in severity.
In total, 813 Islamophobic and anti-Muslim crimes were recorded last year, down from 950 in 2017.
The figures however showed that injuries as a result of the attacks had risen, with 54 reported in 2018 — an increase on 32 from the previous year.
The numbers were released by the German parliament in response to a request by Die Linke (The Left) political party and reported in the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
The new statistics led to calls for a reporting centre to be launched, similar to the one opened in January to tacle antisemitism.
Fears of more right-wing crime
Now counselling bosses fear crime could continue to rise as state elections, which could create more division, take place later this year.
“In 2019 we fear an increase in right-wing violence, especially in the context of the state election campaigns in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia,” said Kusche.
According to the association, their figures only refer to the east because similar organizations in western Germany haven’t calculated figures.
“This is only a small part of the true threat of right-wing violence,” said Matthias Quent, Director of the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society in Jena.